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Three Views of Donald Trump

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Kirk is a partisan activist who describes Donald Trump Jr. as a “good friend.” He presents a 256-page evidence-light rant against “the left,” “institutions,” “the elite,” “the establishment” and “socialists” as an argument for the president’s place in history. In his view, “the future of the Democrat Party is whiners and killjoys. The future of the Republican Party is winners.” After all, he insists, rattling off lists of what he sees as Trump’s top accomplishments, Democrats’ objections to the president are laughable: “For many on the left,” he absurdly asserts at one point, “his association with WWE may be the thing they hate the most.” Why, you might ask Kirk, have Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders succeeded in the Democratic primary over their rivals? “In part because they resemble Trump a little.” That will be news to them.

So what about the “doctrine” itself? Kirk tries defining it — and Trump’s thinking — a few times, but he can’t quite agree with himself even on its back story. In his introduction he writes, “The MAGA Doctrine didn’t spring into existence in 2016 — because it is the core philosophy by which our whole society has come to be over several centuries.” A few pages later he writes, “it is something new,” before, near the end of the book, declaring, “The MAGA Doctrine is a jolt to the very organizing principles of the modern world.” Got that?

Kirk, at least, has already caught Trump’s attention: He earned an approving tweet for the book on its publication day. Good thing, too, or else his description of the president as “the greatest defender the Bill of Rights has in modern America” and probably “the greatest living exemplar of free speech in the 21st century” might have been in vain.

THE TODDLER IN CHIEF

What Donald Trump Teaches Us
About the Modern Presidency

By Daniel W. Drezner

272 pp. University of Chicago Press. Paper, $15.

It is almost surprising that, nearly a third of the way into 2020, more books haven’t been inspired by viral Twitter threads. Drezner’s brisk offering is a good place to start, built as it is out of a three-plus year, 1,000-plus tweet project documenting examples of the president’s own aides and allies describing him, in the author’s words, “like a toddler.” A professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a Washington Post contributor, Drezner constructs his argument that the president acts like a small child around descriptions of toddlers’ behavior by the American Academy of Pediatrics. He quotes mainstream news stories from the last four years extensively to highlight Trump’s “temper tantrums,” “poor impulse control” and “oppositional behavior,” among other traits.


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